Duke was reacting to the destruction of properties on Friday and Saturday in Calabar by some hoodlums, following the #EndSARS protest against police brutality and bad governance in Nigeria.
Speaking with newsmen at his home in Calabar on Sunday, the former SPD Presidential candidate during 2019 elections, said the older generation who were leading the country need the forgiveness of the youths in order to regain their confidence once again to be able to forge ahead as a nation.
He said that from the videos and pictures he saw on the looting in Calabar, it showed that the youths felt neglected and abandoned by leaders, leaving their future in their hands with nothing put in place for them.
“The youths have been badly bruised, and their scars must be well taken care of. The youths are telling us something not in words but in actions, they are speaking in their own manner because people speak differently, some speak in parables too.
“The youths have to forgive us first because we are the ones who are managing their resources and they are telling us that our management is poor, they cannot be silenced, they must be heard.
“If it is right to life then there is right to livelihood, giving them a job or engaging them is not a privilege but a right. There is a trust deficit between the people especially the youths and the government, our democracy is 21 years already, we can’t wait to be fooled at 40,” he said.
Duke said Nigeria was now in a situation where the rich cannot sleep because the poor cannot eat. He said that the youths feel abandoned and depressed with no leaders to assure them that tomorrow will be better than today, hence they took laws into their hands by destroying private and government properties.
“We have always warned that Nigeria was seating on a gun powder, from this moment we must be very sincere with the people. We must mean what we say and say what we mean. The youths feel cheated because the older generation had better opportunities at their age.
“The youths need to know that we are listening to them, the youths should be able to hold us accountable . The engagement of the youth is pivotal Huge percentage of our youths are idle, in fact over 80 percent of them because when you see someone carting away used toilet seat then there is a big problem.
“Television sets can be replaced, cars can be replaced, but a bruised mind is very dangerous to handle, young people are beginning to ask questions and if the youths feel your statements are empty, they will not take you seriously anymore.
“If they were gainfully employed or engaged they will not come out in their large numbers, we must create jobs, we must find ways for them to out the money in the hands of people because it is innate in man to survive.
“The government on its part must also be ingenious in finding solutions to these problems, let’s assure our teeming youths that they are not alone, if China can create jobs for billions then Nigeria can also do it.
“What we experienced in Cross River for the first time is a deep-seated resentment from the people who feel a certain state of hopelessness, we must therefore ask ourselves as leaders where we got it wrong with a view to doing more because what the youths are saying is that we have not done enough,” he said.
Meanwhile, Imo State former governor, Rocha Okorocha also said the #EndSARS protests was a reaction to years of bad leadership in the country. He added that it is a wake-up call to the political elite to be accountable and alive to their responsibilities.